Syrian army tightens the screw

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

Trapped civilians and rebel deserters are being urged to leave via the four safe escape routes set up by Syria and Russia around the besieged enclave. Rebel attempts to break out have been thwarted by loyalist troops, backed by crack Tiger Force commandos, and Hezbollah and Palestinian militiamen, and supported by Russian and Syrian air strikes.

But a Russian transport helicopter was shot down following delivery of humanitarian supplies to Aleppo osia’s Reconciliation Centre in Syria. The Reconciliation Centre, which operates out of the Russian air-base in Syria, oversees local cease-fire agreements and the supply of humanitarian aid across the country.

The rebels who are guilty of countless atrocities in Aleppo, such as the beheading of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy accused of being an Assad supporter last month, are again accusing the Syrian army of poison gas attacks. Even though they cannot produce any video or photographic evidence, the imperialists and their lackeys will doubtless use these groundless claims to put pressure on the Syrian government to lift the siege.

The Aleppo rebels are led by the Nusra Front (Victory Front) — the Syrian branch of Al Qaida, the equally brutal partner of the “Islamic State” (ISIS) that is less than covertly armed by US imperialism and Turkey and funded by the feudal kings of Arabia. Their strategy is to appeal for direct imperialist intervention on bogus “humanitarian” grounds to halt the Syrian offensive and to hold out until the rabidly anti-Assad Hillary Clinton wins the American presidential election in November.

This week the Nusra Front changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al Sham (Front for the Conquest of the Levant), in a cosmetic move to get it classed as one of the “moderate” rebel militias so that it can get open American and Qatari support. They certainly need it. In the past they always relied on Turkey as a safe haven, and as conduit for NATO arms and jihadi fanatic volunteers. Now the Turks are having second thoughts.

Relations with US imperialism have soured following the attempted coup in Turkey last month and the Americans’ refusal to extradite the exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Philadelphia and is branded widely in Turkish government circles as a CIA asset. Now the Turkish media is saying that the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis, angered at the Erdoğan government’s efforts to improve relations with Iran and Russia, were also behind the failed coup.

Russia and Syria are working together to ease the plight of the 250,000-odd civilians trapped in rebel-held Aleppo. Those fleeing through the specially designated corridors are coming under under heavy rebel fire.

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin, said: “I know there have been significant efforts to carry out the humanitarian operation in Aleppo. The humanitarian situation there is quite dramatic and the whole situation in Aleppo remains extremely tense.”

But Peskov told the media that he was not in a position to give details of the Russian Defence Ministry’s relief operation, which involves opening safe passage for hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in eastern Aleppo as well as militiamen willing to lay down arms.